Ben Folds at Vicar Street, Dublin

 Ben Folds at Vicar Street on November 26th 2012

The maestro that is Ben Folds came, saw and conquered all before him once again in Vicar Street, as he laid out another quirky offbeat set. He’s revived the Ben Folds Five after nearly thirteen years without a major record. They launched themselves back upon the world with ‘Do It Anyway‘, which is classic, catchy upbeat Folds, the type of song that is massively radio friendly, but still won’t make it on to half the stations out there these days. Rapturous applause greets our trio, as they join the stage in front of a completely sold out Vicar Street.

Opening with a new track Michael Praytor, Five Year Later the crowd were a little subdued initially, but had the cobwebs blown off quickly as sing alongs for Missing The War, Jackson Cannery andSelfless, Cold and Composed permeated the entire venue, the crowd in loud and boisterous voice tonight. The new material is subtly merged throughout the set, weaving magically from the début album gold of Alice Childress, Uncle Walter and Philosophy to ‘Whatever and Ever Amen’ tracks likeBrick and Battle of Who Could Care Less, the set jam-packed with some of the best of the Ben Folds Five from all four albums. The new tracks were no slouches either, with Erase Me going down a treat and Do It Anyway getting the crowd moving. The audience is not only vocal with its singing tonight, but also at shouting up to Ben, who makes jokes with the crowd about what is said. As he attempted to start Thank You For Breaking My Heart he is interrupted by a shout from the crowd about their love for roadie Scott, and he messes up, prompting him to segway into Rock This Bitch where he improvised lyrically about Scott. He follows that up with a successful attempt at Thank You For Breaking My Heart, taken from the new album.

A Ben Folds classic somehow makes its way into the setlist, as one of our favourite tracks, Landed gets an airing, sang loudly by the adoring crowd. Brick is another personal highlight, a track that enters via the ears and runs down the spine, giving chills as the crowd harmonise with the enigmatic frontman. Finishing up with Magic and Philosophy, which gets the crowd dancing once again, and singing loudly back to their hero. It’s clear we’re not the only ones in the crowd enthralled by the experience, as chants, stamping and clapping envelope the venue with bone jittering force, to ensure the band know that more is expected.

They return to vociferous cheers, their work almost done as Song For The Dumped is rocked from high while the crowd on low sing with all the intensity of lovers scorned, venting any lasting rage with a vocal release valve. The night is capped off with Underground and Ben Folds Five leave the stage as returning heroes. Our only qualms can be with the lack of Army, which was played at the last two shows, and perhaps the omission of Rockin The Suburbs, which by all accounts was the lesser of two evils.

This is a band that has no frills, bare minimum lighting, no visual shows, just three men and their instruments and yet they fill the stage like an orchestra, such is their presence. If absence makes the heart grow fonder, then the thirteen years since their last record explains exactly why the atmosphere and crowd were so enamoured by the bands return. It better not be another thirteen before we see them again.

Setlist

Michael Praytor, Five Years Later
Missing The War
Hold That Thought
Jackson Cannery
Selfless, Cold and Composed
Erase me
Alice Childress
Sky high
Draw A Crowd
Landed
Battle Of Who Could Care Less
Uncle Walter
Rock This Bitch
Thank You For Breaking My Heart
Brick
Do It Anyway
Narcolepsy
Magic
Philosophy

Encore
Song For The Dumped
Underground

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